WHY are we back begging folk for lifts or transcribers so that we can protest? The very reliance in our language on ‘ability phraseology’ shows just WHY we are still stuck with the begging bowl, or worse assumed to be too lazy to work/fight. It’s about desire vs ability, power vs resources even more than it is about individual laws. and the root causes of inequality.
We hear endless variations on ‘my friend in a wheelchair/with Polio/with CP has a job’/Stephen Hawking can do it/ ‘we all have illnesses but some aren’t doing enough’ as though resourcefulness were the issue not resources, as though the answer lay within our grit or stamina.We are the people who need to be told to do more. It is not the apathy of the disabled person which is the issue. I know able bodied people who could fight for partners, friends, relatives,who could help disabled people to understand the processes needed to put up a fight, yet who would rather see their ‘loved ones’in care homes and say ‘oh, we are doing our best for them’ than have to knuckle down and fight the establishment they voted in. Nor is it always laziness. Some people would rather NOT see disabled people fulfilling their potential, living their own lives in freedom if they then have to face the uncomfortable truth that they have kept us down, have mistreated and ignored and derided us and they are afraid of the punishment we might wreak if we ever became strong enough to stand alone.As a disabled person with profound cognitive or sensory or physical disabilities, MANY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DO THIS. There are many who won’t even know that there is a fight, who only know that that ‘people are nasty now’ and these people, usually reliant on state paid or family carers who have their lives to live and ‘no time’ (or inclination) to fill in forms or fight for them until the day the form lands on the mat.When the people who used to help you and support you agree with the Government cuts, not only do you lack confidence, you lack resources. Even as a writer you lack secretaries, proofreaders, copy editors printers, drivers, cheerleaders and publishers, to name but a few functions that the supportive family and friends can provide. When the people who helped you and supported you through University pull that support you are a legless man trying to walk without prosthetics. Society does not want to admit that many are still trapped whether physically, cognitively or by communication barriers- barriers that are invisible to those who don’t have to face them. Participation is the first barrier and if we could work out HOW all who WANT to could participate … THEN we would have a MUCH bigger army.
Cuts set us adrift with the assumption that we will be able to continue without support now that we ‘know how’. Yet many people have cognitive, physical or sensory impairments that meant they cannot simply LEARN them -or not to a standard required for employment and day to day functioning. The bare minimum is all they can get done when it comes to physical tasks or life skills, one reason why the few end up filling in forms for the many- not because the many are lazy, but because they struggle without support.
Many of the people who aren’t visible in the fight against the welfare cuts are not lacking in desire to take part but need to be enabled to take part. Without the means to communicate people will be dependent on others to speak for them. Cutting people loose from benefits, welfare schemes and support will not scare them into finding work or developing new skills.
Many indeed are lucky if they get the support they need to fill in an ESA 50 form, let alone man the picket lines or write to their M.P. Of course, those are the very transport/IT/sensory resources we are losing. Loss of text phone…ILF…. DLA… their best hope of crushing us is that the support networks that enable us to BE campaigners are gone.
This is of course what we argue when we say that the cuts are bad for us, yet increasingly some disabled people have been tearing a strip off others for not participating- almost as though they don’t believe their own rhetoric of abandonment and isolation. It is quite simply logical that a hard of hearing person with speech difficulties is going to have a much narrower platform than someone with none. Yet people are shutting their ears as the drip feed of the government does its work and even our friends, neighbours and carers become unwilling to admit our needs.
It is profoundly frightening that we are still saying this, thirty odd years after disabled people first started writing and fighting for liberties and freedom that others took for granted that we still lack those resources, that have to plug the resources/support/vulnerable/isolation angles because after years of showing ourselves to be STRONG, we are once again forced into the rhetoric of vulnerability.
Of course the more resources are cut, the more vulnerable we ARE yet it is unpleasant and dangerous to have to play into such a damaging dialogue with its overtones of helplessness and uselessness. If we have to plug the resources/support/vulnerable/isolation angles because after years of showing ourselves to be STRONG, we are once again forced into the rhetoric of vulnerability. And that is very dangerous because I only have to look at how folk in our area or my family speak to me to know that they are seeing care homes as a solution.